On Monday, October 2, the House Judiciary Committee announced that it would consider two bills on Wednesday, Oct. 11 – the Legal Workforce Act and the Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act). The former would make the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system mandatory for all employers over a period of three years; the latter would transition the existing H-2A agricultural worker visa program to a new H-2C program.
It didn’t happen. Late Tuesday, Committee staff announced that the Wednesday “mark-up” was being postponed. The reason? Apparently, a growing number of Republicans objected to some of the Ag Act provisions, potentially jeopardizing Chairman Goodlatte’s ability to successfully move the legislation through the Committee process. Because not a single Democrat is expected to support the bill, the Chairman can only lose three Republican votes and still pass a bill.
AmericanHort and coalition colleagues have signaled support for the Chairman moving the bill through his committee, while pledging to work with House leadership and others to more fully address agriculture’s needs as the process continues. It remains to be seen whether the Chairman can build enough consensus within his own party to move the bill at all. And of course, mandatory E-Verify without an ag solution would be disastrous.